Once we’re on the march toward spring, anglers get excited about some of the year’s best fishing when walleye and white bass are spawning.
Walleye get this fishing party started, with white bass not far behind. Walleye fishing is already picking up at Beaver Lake as these tasty fish with sharp teeth migrate from the reservoir and up the White and War Eagle rivers to spawn. White bass get going in March, too, but the catching for white bass really heats up in April.
Beaver isn’t the only waterway with plenty of walleye and white bass action. Other walleye hot spots are the White River below Beaver Dam and far up the Kings River arm at Table Rock Lake.
Let’s take a look at walleye first, then white bass.
Walleye go for live bait or lures at spawning time. A jig and minnow combination is good to use. Trolling a live nightcrawler on a nightcrawler harness is a great set-up.
Savvy walleye sleuths will testify that trolling or casting a Flicker Shad crank bait gets walleye to bite. A lure with some chartreuse in the pattern is a good choice. Jerk baits are fine walleye lures. So are 3-inch plastic curly-tail grubs in white or chartreuse.
To see a video about using nightcrawlers for walleye and another about using lures, just search Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette walleye, and they’ll pop right up.
The daily walleye limit at Beaver Lake and its tributaries is four. Walleye must be 18 inches or longer to keep. The same regulations apply on the White River below Beaver Dam.
White bass are some of the hardest fighting fish that prowl the Ozarks’ waterways. Each of the areas mentioned for catching walleye are equally good for white bass.
An often overlooked area for white bass fishing is the riprap on the north end of Beaver Dam. That’s the word from Jon Stein, area fisheries supervisor for Game and Fish.
“A lot of people don’t know it, but white bass will spawn on that riprap,” Stein said. There is plenty of shore fishing opportunity there. Locals call the area White Bass Cove.
There’s no daily limit or size limit on white bass at Beaver or its tributaries. Anglers can keep all the white bass they care to clean of any size. White bass can grow up to 3 pounds in Ozark waters. The state record is 5 pounds, 6 ounce caught out of the Mississippi River in 2005.
Minnows or any lure that looks like a minnow works well for white bass. Small crawdads are good, too. Small swim baits or grubs in white or chartreuse are good to use. So are inline spinners such as Rooster Tails or Mepps spinners in gray, silver or white.
A truly exciting way to catch white bass is with a fly rod. A Clouser minnow is the go-to fly for white bass. Again, white is a good color. White with some chartreuse, blue, red or olive in the pattern works well.
It’s game on when a big white bass eats that Clouser minnow on the end of your lightweight fly rod. Sore arms at the end of the day never felt so good.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NWAFlip.